A group of leaders from Ukambani region who campaigned for the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017 have endorsed Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s 2022 presidential bid.
The leaders include Kibwezi MP Patrick Musimba, Kitui East MP Nimrod Mbai, Kitui South MP Rachael Nyamai and former MPs Kalembe Ndile (Kibwezi), Kisoi Munyao (Mbooni) and Philip Kaloki (Kibwezi).
Others are former Makueni Assembly Speaker Stephen Ngelu and former Makueni Majority Leader Francis Mutuku.
Most of the leaders had defected from Wiper ahead of the 2017 polls, citing shrinking democratic space in the party led by Mr Musyoka.
He has become the face of a team of Ukambani politicians who aggressively supports Mr Musyoka.
Those who landed government posts after they lost their 2017 bids cited the enhanced working relationship between the President and Mr Musyoka as the motivation for their return to Mr Musyoka’s fold.
“We have decided to work with Mr Musyoka because he is working with President Kenyatta. Their close working relationship has created cohesion in the country, including Ukambani, which has benefited from appointments in government agencies and development projects such as the ongoing Sh62 billion Thwake Dam and Konza City project,” Prof Kaloki said recently during a burial ceremony in Makindu.
His sentiments have been echoed by Mr Munyao, who has linked the ongoing development projects in Ukambani to the enhanced working relationship between Mr Musyoka and President Kenyatta.
Mr Mbai, who was elected on a Jubilee ticket, is among the leaders who have become part of Mr Musyoka’s entourage when he tours the region. He has endorsed the former Vice-President who has announced his 2022 State House bid.
The leaders are banking on their support of Mr Musyoka to rekindle their political careers, according to political analysts.
Aware that their close working relationship with Mr Musyoka may cause jitters among his close allies, Mr Ndile has called on Wiper loyalists not to panic. “We have not come to Wiper to assume leadership positions. We are here because we need to speak with one voice as a community,” he told a rally attended by Mr Musyoka at Mbuuni Primary School in Machakos recently.
The combined team is expected to be more effective in taming a faction led by the three Ukambani governors who have been criticising Mr Musyoka.
The endorsement comes at a time when Mr Musyoka is making inroads into the vote rich Mount Kenya and Rift Valley regions through deals championed by former Jubilee chairman David Murathe and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi.
His critics, however, insist that the region has not substantially benefited from Mr Musyoka’s many years of leadership and argue that his ambitions are untenable.
Dr Mutua, who had campaigned for the re-election of President Kenyatta, has announced that he will be running for the presidency.
Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana has called on Mr Musyoka to drop his State House bid and consider supporting other candidates instead.